Recently I’ve heard a lot of negative feedback about Delta’s award booking policies and rumors about them cracking down on the number of stopovers and open-jaws you can build into awards.
Every frequent flyer program has their positives and negatives and while Delta does indeed have a lot of negatives (one way awards that cost the same amount as round-trips, buggy online booking engine and three notorious award tiers that can inflate the cost awards to eye-popping levels) they also have some positives like the ability to build in a stopover and open jaw on awards, as I described in this post.
So when I started getting a lot of emails about Delta cracking down on stopovers and open jaws I immediately got concerned. I read through this Flyertalk thread and got in touch with my contacts at Delta who assured me there has been to policy change – the online errors are simply due to fare rules changing that impact the legal routings of awards. Factor in delta.com’s notorious IT issues and it became a full-blown debacle.
I decided to sit down with a big cup of coffee and go head to head with Delta.com to experience these issues for myself. And surprisingly, Delta.com worked better than I’ve ever experienced. Admittedly, its been a couple months since I’ve booked a Delta award, but I was impressed with new features like the ability to book mixed-class itineraries (like flying coach one way and business/first on the return) and the award engine priced each of my itineraries flawlessly. For the Air France legs I used ExpertFlyer to find award availability and then plugged in the segments in the multi-city search.
I ran through a number of different awards – domestic open jaw, domestic stopover, domestic stopover and open jaw, European stopover with transit, African award with European stopovers and co-terminals and Asian mixed class award with a stopover. Each time the awards priced correctly at the low award levels and I was able to put them on hold and ticket.
Additionally, it seems that there are empowered customer service reps at Delta that are able to override the system if you still encounter issues, so it can’t hurt to call if you still encounter errors.
So overall, after spending a couple hours with Delta.com, I’m actually happy with the improvements and glad I just bought 100,000 Skymiles for $1,100 with their recent 100% transfer miles promotion. It means my summer trip to Europe and the Indian Ocean island of Reunion will cost me less than $1,500 – in business class!